UN agency to assess environmental damage in conflictravaged Afghanistan

Five four-member teams comprised of both Afghan and international experts will collect samples and examine sites around the country, according to UNEP. Among other tasks, the teams are charged with identifying pollution hotspots and other health threats, identifying strategies to protect and improve Afghanistan’s natural resources, and training the country’s own experts in environmental protection. The experts’ report, which will be published in December, will include recommendations for dealing with environmental threats, increasing Afghanistan’s capacity for environmental management, creating jobs in the environmental sector, and implementing international environmental agreements.”Although often forgotten when conflicts end and reconstruction begins, the natural environment is the foundation for all human society and civilization,” said UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer. “To succeed in the long term, the rebuilding of Afghanistan must therefore include efforts to revive and protect wildlife and ecosystems, clean up contaminated sites, and manage natural resources such as freshwater and forests more sustainably.”Pekka Haavisto, Chairman of the UNEP Afghanistan Task Force, said three decades of conflict in the country had ravaged the environment. “Assessing and repairing the country’s environment will prove vital to the long-term well being of the Afghan people,” he stressed. “In addition, protecting the environment will support sustainable rural development and enhance job creation in Afghanistan.” read more

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Geoscientists call on government to resuscitate Australian mineral exploration

first_imgAustralia’s reputation as one of the world’s foremost destinations for mineral exploration is under threat from a critical market failure that discourages ‘greenfields’ exploration, according to Australia’s leading professional institute for geoscientists. Additionally the organisation says, Australia’s current precious and base metals mining production is increasingly reliant on a small number of major deposits which are largely ‘mature’ and in decline – presenting a clear threat to mine production and in turn, the export earnings of the economy.The concerns are expressed in a major report released by the Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG) and titled – Market Failure in the Australian Mineral Exploration Industry: The Case for Fiscal Incentives“. The report was authored by exploration geologists, Chris Cairns (Integra Mining) and Dr Jon Hronsky (Western Mining Services) and by mineral economist, Richard Schodde (MinEx Consulting).The report finds that the heavy reliance of companies exploring in Australia on short-term market capital has impeded their ability to undertake high risk but potentially high reward “greenfields” or “grassroots” exploration capable of yielding the new major discoveries needed to sustain Australia’s precious and base metals mining production.“Additionally, Australia’s current tax regime offers no incentives, concessions or support for investments in greenfields exploration by companies that do not already have producing mines generating cashflow against which exploration expenditure may be fully offset for taxation purposes,” AIG Vice President, Andrew Waltho, said.“Essential work by ‘junior’ exploration companies — which now undertake the majority of metals exploration in Australia — receives no recognition under our current taxation system during the often protracted time it takes to discover a new deposit and turn it into a viable and sustainable mine,” Waltho said.“Instead, these ‘juniors’ are driven by very short-term market forces and by the need to constantly report good news and stay on brokers’ and investors’ radars. This approach does not encourage longer-term investment in exploration, typically without short-term newsworthy results, that is needed to find the next generation of major discoveries. The study clearly demonstrates that the way by which we fund and reward metals exploration has actively discouraged exploration in greenfields areas for the best part of 20 years, leading to a steady decline in the number of new high-quality precious and base metals discoveries in Australia.”Waltho said successive governments had contributed to a clear market failure affecting the exploration sector, apparently through a fixation on the income generated by mining projects discovered decades ago. “This has resulted in a failure to implement measures to address the critical market failure affecting funding of greenfields exploration.“The upcoming Federal Budget presents the Commonwealth Government with the opportunity to correct this market failure, and to begin to resuscitate the exploration sector on which the long-term sustainability of Australia’s resource industries critically depends.”No flow through – decline inevitableThe AIG, in concert with other representative mining industry bodies, has long been pressing for the introduction of a flow-through share (FTS) scheme similar to that in Canada, which provides an exploration tax credit designed to “flow through” to shareholders in junior exploration companies.The Canadian scheme, initially introduced in October 2000 and recently extended, is credited with stimulating the exploration that has led to some of the most important new minerals discoveries in Canada, including the world-class Eleanor gold deposit in northern Quebec.“Unless the Government takes bold action in the near-term, Australia’s mining industry’s resource base will decline to a point where we become reliant on fewer and poorer quality projects, eventually lose our prominence in global markets and be unable to continue performing our key role in underpinning Australia’s economic performance and therefore Australia’s quality of life,” Waltho said.“Australia remains a highly prospective place to explore – our geology has many more high-quality deposits to potentially be found in both previously explored areas and vast, essentially unexplored terrains where prospective geology is buried under shallow cover. Australian geoscientists continue to develop new tools and technologies for exploring deeper through these cover rocks and integrating different sources of geological, geochemical and geophysical data that will contribute to new, major mineral discoveries if the ability of explorers to apply these new technologies in a systematic and persistent manner is resolved by securing sustained exploration investment.”The AIG says a FTS scheme would address a notable disparity in Australian tax law by which most junior explorers are ineligible for deductions for investment in exploration under Australian tax laws simply because they do not generate any taxable income.“A FTS would rectify this anomaly by allowing explorers that cannot use the deduction to enable tax credits to ‘flow through’ to their shareholders, making these companies more attractive to investors and providing the exploration sector with greater and more sustained investment,” Waltho said.Last year, an independent study by Synergies Economic Consulting and the Centre for Policy Studies concluded that a flow-through shares scheme in Australia would generate some 4,000 new jobs and up to A$1 billion in additional exploration investment over a four-year period, making it one of the most cost effective economic stimulus measures available to the Commonwealth Government.The Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG) is Australia’s leading professional association representing geologists and geophysicists employed in all sectors of industry, government and education throughout Australia. Further information regarding the Institute is available at www.aig.org.aulast_img read more

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